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Stevan Ridley must be 'ready to go,' Bill Belichick says

Now that running back Shane Vereen is out until at least Week 11, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick hinted that starter Stevan Ridley will get another reprieve for his ball-security issues.

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"I talked to Stevan," Belichick told reporters Monday. "Look, every player has the same responsibility every week: to be ready to play, be ready to go. That's their job. They can't control coaches' decisions. Coaches' decisions are coaches' decisions. They control their preparation; they control their performance when they're in the game. That's what a player's job is."

To Ridley's credit, he's accepted blame for the careless fumbles and is using the situation as a learning experience.

"I can't make excuses, two balls on the ground is unacceptable," Ridley said, via WEEI in Boston. "I'm not going to sit on the past. I have to accept where I messed up, made a mistake and grow from it."

As Tom Brady pointed out, Ridley hardly was the only Patriots player to make a mistake in the 23-21 nail-biter over the Buffalo Bills.

"I know Stevan is a very mentally tough kid," Brady said. "I love having him back there. I love giving the ball to him and watching him run."

If history is any indication, Brady will have Ridley behind him as the foundation back in Thursday night's divisional tilt versus the New York Jets.

According to numbers compiled by ESPNBoston.com's Field Yates, Ridley averaged 17.75 carries per game following each of his four fumbles last season. It's virtually identical to the workload he received in the other 12 games.

Belichick will continue to emphasize the importance of avoiding careless turnovers, but he's not going to cut off his nose to spite his face.

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